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Football

Napoli, Roma and Lazio, Inter headline week 10 of Serie A

Atalanta vs Parma

Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, Bergamo  

Saturday, 27-10-2018 @04:00pm

Atalanta got back on track in spectacular fashion against Chievo, but Parma are a very different prospect with Gervinho returning. Gian Piero Gasperini’s side had been without a win in nine games between Serie A and the Europa League, but ended that negative streak with a 5-1 demolition of Chievo at the Stadio Bentegodi.

This Saturday they hope to put on another show when they host Parma at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, or at the very least prove they have turned a corner and not just taken advantage of rock bottom Chievo on Gian Piero Ventura’s debut. Parma are a very different prospect and will be eager to themselves back on track after a 2-0 home defeat to Lazio. That and the 3-0 loss to Napoli were the only blips in an otherwise very impressive run of form, winning four of the last six. That includes away successes at Inter and Genoa.

Gervinho missed the Lazio game due to injury and should return for at least a spot on the bench, but Alberto Grassi, Federico Dimarco, Jacopo Dezi, Gianni Munari and Francisco Sierralta are still sidelined.

Atalanta are missing Andrea Masiello and Marco Tumminello again, but Duvan Zapata should get the nod rather than Musa Barrow in partnering Papu Gomez.

Parma have won 60 per cent of their games with Gervinho on the pitch this season, but only 25 per cent of those in his absence.

Empoli vs Juventus

Stadio Carlo Castellani, Empoli 

Saturday, 27-10-2018 @07:00pm

Juventus dropped points for the first time this season against Genoa and now visit a tactically-astute Empoli desperate for a result. Aurelio Andreazzoli’s Azzurri are without a win since the opening day and despite playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw away at Frosinone last week, Empoli have taken just two points from the last 18 available. The Tuscan outfit have found results hard to come by since returning to Italy’s top flight. Playing a modern brand of football, Andreazzoli’s team make for enjoyable viewing. However, often positive performances have not translated into points.

Finding the net has been a problem, as last weekend’s three-goal return was the first time Empoli have scored more than once in seven games. Maintaining that threat while keeping Cristiano Ronaldo and co out will be the ultimate challenge.

Empoli have no fresh injury concerns and will likely continue to deploy the 4-3-1-2 they have used for the majority of the season.

A disappointing home draw against Genoa last week put an end to Juve’s 100 per cent record. That draw was quickly erased from the memory with a confident display at Old Trafford that saw the Bianconeri collect a memorable Champions League win over Manchester United.

Coach Max Allegri is known for his squad rotation and will likely make changes to his starting XI from midweek, but is still without Sami Khedira, Emre Can and Mario Mandzukic.

Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa will be in contention to start, as boss Allegri could tinker with his system. Fit again Mattia De Sciglio is looking for his first start of the season, while Leonardo Spinazzola is back from long-term injury and should get his first call-up to the match day squad.

Juve have scored more goals in the opening half-hour than any other side this season (seven), but Empoli have the worst defensive record in the first 15 minutes (conceding four)

Torino vs Fiorentina

Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, Torino

Saturday, 27-10-2018 @09:30pm

Torino will be looking to make it three wins from four, but it won’t be easy against Europa League-chasing Fiorentina.

Despite struggling to find a balance between attack and defence so far this season, Torino have been quietly impressive going into Week 10 of this Serie A season, winning three of their last four games and sitting in a stable 10th position. Any side with the quality of Andrea Belotti, Salvatore Sirigu and Alex Berenguer should be hoping for bigger and better things, but the general turnaround from Walter Mazzarri has fans hoping that there’s more to come.

Fiorentina, on the other hand started strongly, but have lost to Lazio and drawn with Cagliari in recent weeks. The former is forgivable, predictable even, but being held by a side with seven goals in nine rounds should serve as a stern warning that complacency will never be unpunished in Serie A.

Stefano Pioli’s side have begun to rely heavily on former Torino man Marco Benassi, with the Italian international midfielder being their top scorer and general midfield anchor. Although it may be amusing and impressive to see the two paired, it is not a sustainable trend and more must be demanded of Giovanni Simeone and Federico Chiesa.

With the Granata deploying a three at the back system and Pioli favouring the 4-3-3, it will be interesting to see how both sides approach the game. With a three on three in attack and defence, man-marking will likely be the order of the day for Mazzarri, but such a tactic can be risky, especially with the pace of Simeone and Chiesa.

With 11 goals shipped in nine rounds, something is already not right with the Toro defence, which will likely be more apparent than ever against the league’s third top scorers.

Defensive pair Lyanco and Cristian Ansaldi will be unavailable for the home side, but with both being long term absentees, it is unlikely to affect them much in play. Fiorentina will only be without summer signing Christian Norgaard.

This fixture is one of the most consistently high-scoring in Serie A, with 38 goals shared in their last 12 meetings, this includes a stalemate in December 2014. With more than three goals per game on average, expect a few more on Saturday.

Sassoulo vs Bologna

MAPEI Stadium – Città del Tricolore, Reggio nell’Emilia

Sunday, 28-10-2018 @02:30pm

This is a tense Emilia-Romagna Derby, as Sassuolo’s early promise has evaporated and Bologna are looking for an upset.

The Neroverdi are winless in their last three Serie A games, losing to both Milan and Napoli before Monday night’s goalless draw away to Sampdoria. After a great start to their league campaign that saw them sitting in second place for a while, they have now slipped down to eighth in the table. That 4-1 loss to Milan was their first home defeat of the season after previous victories over Inter, Genoa and Empoli.

Coach Roberto De Zerbi has been instrumental in getting his side back to playing the energetic and attractive football they were famous for a couple of seasons ago and he will be looking for them to pick up full points in this game to keep in touching distance of the European Qualification places.

He will have to do without the services of Federico Peluso and Alfred Duncan, who are out through injury, while Kevin Prince Boateng and reserve ‘keeper Giacomo Satalino are slight doubts and will face late fitness tests. It should be a chance for Federico Di Francesco to face his former club.

The Rossoblu, on the other hand, are languishing down at the bottom of the table sitting in 17th position on seven points, just two points above Empoli, who are in the last relegation place. Their last outing was a 2-2 draw at home to Torino in which they mounted a stunning comeback after finding themselves two goals down after 54 minutes. While all seven of those points have come at home this, season their away form is truly a problem, having now gone 14 matches without a win on their travels in Serie A.

Their new boss Pippo Inzaghi hasn’t quite figured out what his best side is yet, giving starts to 22 of his players so far in a desperate attempt to stumble upon a winning formula. He will need to decide on a settled 11 soon, as time will be running out for him to right the ship and get his team moving up the table.

Impressive young full-back Federico Mattiello and Czech forward Ladislav Krejci are on the treatment table and will miss out on the next few games.

Expect this game to wide open as both teams go in search of the much-needed three points.

Bologna are unbeaten in their last five meetings both home and away with Sassuolo.

Cagliari vs Chievo

Sardegna Arena (Cagliari)  

Sunday, 28-10-2018 @05:00pm

Winless Chievo travel to Cagliari this weekend, looking to get themselves into positive points and climb off the bottom of the league table.These sides are each in the bottom three for goals scored this season, both managing just seven in their opening nine league games so far. However, Cagliari are 11 points better off than their opponents this weekend and earned an impressive point away from home at Fiorentina last weekend.

As for Chievo, they are now on -1 points after their three-point deduction for false accounting was implemented at the start of the season and have picked up just two points from a possible 27. They have conceded a remarkable 24 goals so far, almost 10 more than any other team, aside from Frosinone, in the division.

Cagliari have been defensively solid thus far and have actually only lost three of their opening nine league games. They have drawn four of those matches and are currently unbeaten at home, winning one and drawing three of their four games at the Sardegna Arena. Having said all of that, it looks difficult for the away side here to pick up anything. They cannot keep the goals out at one end, whilst struggling to cause teams problems going forward. Cagliari have always been a strong side at home and given they have drawn three of their four home games this season, conceding just three in those four, they are proving hard to beat.

Of the last 25 matches between these two, only five games have seen both teams getting on the score sheet.

Genoa vs Udinese

Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genova 

Sunday, 21-10-2018 @05:00pm

Genoa on Ivan Juric’s return as Coach became the first side to take points off Juventus and now they host stuttering Udinese.

The Rossoblu have Europe’s top goal scorer playing up front, along with a whole host of revitalised players, such as Domenico Criscito and Sandro. Worryingly, there’s been no consistent 90-minute displays from Genoa this season. Their wins have been bumpy and close shaves, whilst the losses have been more than deserved.

That is why Davide Ballardini was fired and Juric brought back for his third stint under President Enrico Preziosi. The immediate impact was a 1-1 draw at leaders Juventus, but how will they fare at Marassi?

Julio Velazquez’s Udinese would love to be in their opponent’s positon. They currently reside in 17th place, a mere two points above the drop zone. Whilst individual players such as Rodrigo de Paul and Samir are having great and good seasons respectively, the lack of talent in this Udinese side becomes more and more glaring by the match.

Neither team is particularly comfortable on the ball, with Genoa averaging 47.9% possession per game and Udinese 45.5%. However, by virtue of being the home team, you can expect Genoa to control most of the play with almost every pass in Udinese’s half directed to Krzysztof Piatek.

It’s also worth noting that Genoa’s home form has been great this season. With three wins from four games, they’re the seventh best home team in the league, with most above them having played five games. Udinese seemingly have no preference for home or away, gaining four points in each split of fixtures.

In terms of team news, the home side have a few notable players missing. Argentine Nicolas Spolli and young forward Andrea Favilli are injured, while former Milan striker Gianluca Lapadula is yet to make an appearance this season.

The visitors possess a relatively clean bill of health, with Darwin Machis the only notable absence. Young defender Nicholas Opoku is a doubt to make the bench, as is Dutch defender Bram Nuytinck.

Genoa haven’t beaten Udinese since a 2-1 result here in February 2016, followed by a draw and three consecutive defeats, home and away. The Grifone have failed to score in their last three meetings with the Friulani.

SPAL vs Frosinone

Stadio Paolo Mazza, Ferrara

Sunday, 28-10-2018 @05:00pm

SPAL’s surprise victory over Roma last Saturday has put them in a great position to get their season back on track against a struggling Frosinone side.

Goals from Andrea Petagna and Kevin Bonifazi propelled SPAL past the Giallorossi for their first win in over a month. Despite going a man down late in the match, Leonardo Semplici’s men were able to hold on to their 2-0 lead at the Stadio Olimpico for all three points. Playing host to Frosinone this Sunday, the Spallini have a great opportunity to earn a spot in the top half of the table.

One of the biggest problems facing SPAL, however, is their lack of a consistent goalscorer. The aforementioned Petagna has established himself as his side’s main source of goals, but his lack of consistency hurts his side more than it helps. His goal against Roma will surely do a lot for the 23-year-old’s confidence and it puts him on the right track.

Frosinone, on the other hand, failed to hold on to their 3-2 lead against Empoli and ended up drawing 3-3 at home. However, Longo’s switch to a 3-5-2 for the match earned his side their first point in almost two months, a step in the right direction.

The Canarini are yet to win a game this season and are 19th in the league. The recent draw brings hope to fans of the Lazio outfit that their team can soon earn three points for the first time in the 2018-19 league campaign.

With Frosinone in turmoil and SPAL with the wind in their sails, count on the Biancazzurri to come away with the win this Sunday.

In the 2016-17 Serie B season, Frosinone won 2-1 at home and 2-0 away, but those remain their only previous meetings.

Milan vs Sampdoria

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan

Sunday, 28-10-2018 @08:00pm

Milan host Sampdoria on Sunday as they look to bounce back from a horror week, but the Blucerchiati are targeting European places.

The Rossoneri were beaten in last weekend’s Derby della Madonnina after Mauro Icardi capitalised on a Gigi Donnarumma mistake for a 1-0 win. They also endured a 2-1 home defeat to Real Betis in the Europa League on Thursday, as pressure mounts on Gennaro Gattuso.

Despite this, they sit 12th in the standings, just two points from sixth place with a game in hand against Genoa. However, they are currently six points behind fourth-placed Lazio, as their faithful are demanding another Champions League berth to come out of this season.

Milan have only lost twice so far this season in Serie A and before last weekend were unbeaten since the opening round. They are in need of a strong performance at San Siro on Sunday against a high-achieving and defensively sound Sampdoria team who have only conceded four goals all season.

Ivan Strinic and Andrea Conti are absent for the home side, as Gattuso has a near-full squad to choose from for this clash.

Meanwhile, Sampdoria are flying high this season. The Blucerchiati have also only lost twice with 1-0 defeats to Udinese and Inter being their sole lowlights. Roma loanee Gregoire Defrel has been a revelation for Samp, as he has netted five times already for his new club.

They have proved that the sale of Lucas Torreira to Arsenal hasn’t had an effect on their midfield, as the trio of Dennis Praet, Albin Ekdal and Edgar Barreto have shown they can match it with the league’s best. As earlier mentioned, they boast the league’s best defensive record with just four goals conceded so far, so this creates for a very intriguing game between one of the league’s most potent attacks and the best defence.

Four out of the last six meetings at San Siro between these sides have ended 1-0, with each team winning twice.

Napoli vs Roma

Stadio San Paulo, Napoli

Sunday, 21-10-2018 @10:30pm

Carlo Ancelotti’s high-flying Napoli continue their Scudetto challenge on Sunday against afrustratingly inconsistent Roma side in a game of huge importance for both teams.

Despite Angel Di Maria’s late equaliser for Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday endingNapoli’s three games winning streak in all competitions, the Partenopei will be full of confidence ahead of their clash against Roma on Sunday.

The fact that the Partenopei can regret a 2-2 draw against the French champions in Paris speaks for itself, as the visitor’s performance during the majority of the night was more than impressive.

Unfortunately for Napoli, Lorenzo Insigne is a slight doubt and might only be fit for the bench against the Giallorossi, as the Italian felt pain in his chest due to a knock in the ribs and was subbed off against PSG.

Therefore Arkadiusz Milik is expected to take Insigne’s place next to Dries Mertens in Napoli’s attack, which would give Roma’s shaky defence plenty to think of.

Only Di Francesco’s former side Sassuolo have conceded more goals than the Giallorossi in the top 10 and despite two consecutive victories in the Champions League against Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow, Roma continue to struggle domestically.

Last week’s embarrassing performance at the Stadio Olimpico against SPAL put Eusebio Di Francesco’s position at the club in danger, but the 3-0 victory against CSKA on Tuesday gives Di Francesco some much needed breathing room.

The win against the Russian side shows just how good this Roma side could be and increases the frustration around the team’s domestic struggles, as the Giallorossi currently look like a team with two faces.

The 49-year-old knows that his team needs to start earning points in Serie A, if he wants to keep his job at the helm of the club, so Roma need to send a signal  against Napoli.

As usual, Edin Dzeko will be the visitor’s main attacking weapon, as the Bosnian’s brace was instrumental for the 4-2 win at the San Paolo last season. However, Dzeko’s goalscoring record mirrors Roma’s performances this term, as despite banging five Champions League goals in just three appearances, he has netted just twice in Serie A since the start of the campaign.

Considering how inconsistent Roma have been in recent weeks, it is very hard to say what can be expected from the game. If the Giallorossi turn up, the clash could become a really close affair and could go either way. However, Napoli are the more consistent team at the moment and Ancelotti’s presence on the bench gives them a pinch of unpredictability and tactical advantage over Roma, which might prove to be decisive.

Faouzi Ghoulam and Alex Meret have returned to training, returned to training, which is a huge boost for Napoli, but Simone Verdi remains a doubt. However, both Ghoulam and Meret are still unavailable and will join Napoli’s long list of absentees, which includes Amin Younes, Vlad Chiriches, Simone Luperto and Adam Ounas.

On the other hand Javier Pastore is a doubt for Roma, while Patrik Schick, Diego Perotti and Rick Karsdorp are injured and will miss the trip to Naples.

There has been an average of 2.9 goals scored per game in their last 34 meetings between Napoli and Roma. The only goalless game during this stretch was in 2015 at the San Paolo.

Lazio vs Inter Milan

Stadio Olimpico, Roma 

Monday, 22-10-2018 @10:30pm

Week 10 concludes with a real treat for Serie A fans, as Lazio will welcome Inter to the Stadio Olimpico in a rematch of last season’s dramatic showdown.

Last campaign, the two sides locked horns in a tense battle for fourth place. Whoever won that game would end up with a coveted spot in the Champions League, and the loser would have to settle for Europa League football for the next term.

As we all know, Inter were the winners on that day, a five-goal thriller that saw plenty of fireworks on the pitch and a last-gasp Matias Vecino winner, whilst Lazio had to contend themselves with competing in Europe’s second tier competition for another campaign. Flash-forward five months later, and these two sides are set to do battle once again.

Both teams come into this game in solid form domestically, with Inter having won their last five Serie A games, whilst Lazio have picked up 12 points out of a possible recent 15. However, whilst the Biancocelesti enjoyed a successful foray into European competition by beating Marseille 3-1 on the road, the same cannot be said for Inter, whose perfect run in the Champions League came to an abrupt end at the hands of a Barcelona side sans Lionel Messi in their ranks.

Just one point separates the two teams heading into Monday evening’s clash, with Inter occupying third spot on 19 points and Lazio sitting in fourth place. With Napoli facing Roma on Sunday in a potentially tricky fixture, this match could present a great chance for the Nerazzurri to even move into second if everything goes their way. Likewise, the Aquile could leapfrog Inter and close the gap on top two Napoli and Juventus should they pick up a crucial win in what is set to be a crunch clash in the Eternal City on Monday evening.

Lazio have lost three of their last four home meetings with Inter in Serie A. Their last home victory against the Nerazzurri was in May 2016 (2-0).

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